One of two fired Broward sheriff’s deputies implicated in ex-lawyer Scott Rothstein’s criminal empire said he got into trouble by doing a favor for a boss.
Jeffrey Poole, in a sentencing memorandum to U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, said he felt obliged to the sheriff’s head of internal affairs to fabricate the arrest of a lawyer’s ex-wife in 2009 at the behest of Rothstein.
Poole, who joined the sheriff’s office in 1999, pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights. He faces sentencing July 24 in Fort Lauderdale federal court.
The actions of the officers is an example of how far Rothstein’s power reached during the height of his $1.2 billion Ponzi scam. He is serving a 50-year prison sentence for fraud and racketeering.
Twenty-three people, including seven lawyers, have been charged with crimes associated with Rothstein.
Poole, 47, of Weston admitted Lt. David Benjamin asked him to make a traffic stop and arrest Marcy Romeo, the ex-wife of Rothstein friend Douglas Bates, on drug charges regardless of the evidence.
Bates was in a bitter custody fight with Romeo, who had left him for him for one of his law partners. Bates is serving a five-year prison sentence for assisting Rothstein in his Ponzi scheme. All charges were dropped against Romeo.
Poole, in the sentencing memorandum, said he owed Benjamin a favor because he had interceded and prevented a Poole’s transfer to a “harder assignment.”
“Poole owed Benjamin. Benjamin knew who to call. Benjamin called and asked Poole to do a favor,” according to the memorandum prepared by Poole’s attorney, Michael A. Gottlieb of Fort Lauderdale.
Gottlieb said in the memo that Poole has lost everything—his career, his income, his reputation—because of one illegal act to repay a favor.
Benjamin is set for sentencing Monday for his involvement in the false arrest as well as numerous other services he did for Rothstein, including helping him temporarily flee the country when the Ponzi scheme imploded in October 2009.
Prosecutors have said Rothstein paid Benjamin $185,000 in cash and valuables to be his enforcer.
A letter from Romeo’s partner, West Palm Beach attorney Lawrence Flaster, was submitted to the court Wednesday in anticipation of the sentencing. He said Romeo suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the arrest and experiences anxiety every time she sees a police officer or police car.
“Her systems range from intense and panoramic nightmares five out (of) seven nights per week on average,” Flaster wrote.